New COVID-19 outbreak confirmed at B.C. prison hit hardest by virus in April

Federal officials have confirmed a new COVID-19 outbreak at B.C.’s Mission Institution.

The Correctional Service of Canada said Thursday that two staff members have tested positive for the virus.

No inmates had tested positive, a spokesperson said in an email.

The agency said it has “extensive infection and prevention control” measures in place across federal prisons, including mandatory masks for inmates, physical distancing and enhanced cleaning protocols.

The CSC has also trained 250 employees nationwide to act as contact tracers, it said.

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In a statement, the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers said several staff members were also isolating following contact tracing.

Pacific region union president Derek Chin called on the CSC and Employment and Social Development Canada to improve transparency around the outbreak, and to bring in outside help to prevent the spread.

“We cannot understand why management will not take every precaution possible to prevent a further outbreak. Hiring a professional firm, like they did in spring, is one of them,” Chin said.

“No one wants to relive the nightmare of last spring. The employer must be serious this time around in its management of the crisis given the significant increase of community transmission of COVID-19 experienced in the Fraser Valley.”

The Mission Institution was the site of Canada’s largest prison outbreak in April, with 120 inmates and a dozen staff infected.

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